The National:

This is from a newsletter from Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, called Reinventing Scotland. It explores the wellbeing economy. Sign up here to receive it every Tuesday at 7pm. 

I find politics really boring, political tribalism and limited thinking reduces everything to soundbites and makes long-term problem solving almost impossible on a national scale.

I want Scotland to become independent. That’s seen as a political position, but it shouldn’t be. I think that’s a constitutional position and politics shouldn't be anywhere near the constitutional question.

My belief is that any party, of any colour, running Scotland for the benefit of Scotland's people, communities, economy and environment will be infinitely better than London rule because Scotland's problems are better understood by people who understand Scotland.

I also want to see Scotland adopt a wellbeing economic approach, one that balances economy, society and the environment. Again, I don’t think that’s a political position. Who wants a growing economy if society is failing, a surge in share prices if children are hungry, rising property values if pensioners are dying of cold? The answer you might be looking for ... is every Westminster political party. 

READ MORE: What does Scotland's housing emergency really mean?

To think that Westminster rule has any tangible benefit for Scotland would clearly be viewed as absurd by any person looking at the issue through a non-politically focused lens. The addiction to political leadership of movements for change is a huge problem and limits our progress.

No political party can deliver independence on its own, nor a wellbeing economy. Both must come from the people because politicians don't create waves, they ride them. The nature of tribal politics means that it's divisive, about power and survival rather than the need to manage generational change in the face of pending environmental and economic disaster.  

All political parties have an overriding goal of winning elections. Political thinking is therefore focused on being seen to take action rather than actually solving the systemic problems that undermine society, economy and environment. In a nutshell, to address Scotland’s problems we need to apply long-term holistic systems thinking and not tick box short terminism.

Systems thinking distinguishes between political quick fixes and longer term systemic solutions. Politicians tend to address symptoms and not the foundational causes of societal problems. This means we get policies that often generate a false expectation of relief but cause long-term worsening of the underlying system failures.

Example: Not solving homelessness

Homelessness is often confused with rough-sleeping. It's not the same thing but lets look at that element. Politicians photographed at soup kitchens and shelters give the illusion of a solution to rough sleeping but the job of politicians should be to lead an inquiry into the underlying systemic problems that cause homelessness in the first place.   

The National: Figures have revealed that the number of food bank parcels distributed is on the rise across three

It needs to produce an in-depth understanding of the complexities, offering an insight into how society has let down homeless people at multiple system failure points during their lives. Collaboration between multiple charities and government agencies, social work departments, mental health and veterans charities is the only way to develop the long-term thinking required and deliver long-term solutions. Such an inquiry would be expensive and it would be time consuming to address the downstream failure points and its conclusions might be painful and difficult to explain at election time.

READ MORE: Greens sound alarm over holiday let rule changes planned by SNP

Let's bin the simplistic solutions

Every couple of years someone comes up with an idiotic political thinking solution to homelessness and gets a mention in the news, usually making me shout at the TV.  An example from 2020 was Peter Dawe, apparently a multimillionaire who stood as a candidate for the Brexit Party. He thought he could solve rough sleeping by inventing a sleeping pod for homeless people made out of two wheelie bins. Ok, so that’s just stupid right, well the same limited thinking, this time with some extra German technology to make it seem smarter, appeared on my social media last week. Instead of wheelie bins you get something that also resembles a coffin BUT it's got solar panels.

Homelessness is often a result of personal tragedy or poor mental health and sometimes just bad luck like the loss of a job leading to depression. The problem isn't a roof, it's a multi-layered complexity of counselling, understanding medical care and long-term engagement. It also requires a redesign of society and our benefits and housing systems into a wellbeing system.      

With politicians mostly offering tick box election-winning solutions and being more concerned about being seen to be tackling the problem rather than properly tackling it, we aren’t getting to the roots of the problems and we get long-term damage to societal wellbeing in the process. If people are convinced that the problem is being addressed, voters ignore the problem until the next crisis news cycle. But then will blame the homeless, thinking “after all, we had that big intervention with coffins/pods, why didn't they use them”?

READ MORE: Scottish homelessness rise sparks fresh calls for change

Populist answers kills systemic reform stone dead, damages public support for the victims of societal problems thus moves the political spectrum to the right. They eat up funding, better spent on more enlightened thinking and so all problems worsen, creating a self perpetuating negative cycle of decline.

In contrast, a systems thinking approach is about engaging with everyone with knowledge to share on problems, so that we are collecting knowledge not projecting politics. Understanding and addressing the complex interconnected components of problems allows the possibility of creating sustainable, long-term wellbeing solutions by addressing the health of a whole system and not just high-profile symptoms.